Cherokee author awarded $100,000 for journalism excellence
The Heising-Simons Foundation announced that freelance journalists Rebecca Nagle and Darcy Courteau are recipients of the 2020 American Mosaic Journalism Prize, which includes an unrestricted cash prize of $100,000.
According to the foundation's news release, the award is one of the largest dollar amounts ever given as journalism prize in the United States.
Rebecca Nagle, Cherokee Nation, and a freelance correspondent for Indian Country Today, has an extensive body of work, which includes her Crooked Media podcast, “This Land.” The podcast explores the Native American treaty rights and implications in the state of Oklahoma. Courteau’s work includes a June 2019 feature in The Atlantic, “Mireya’s Third Crossing,” about an undocumented immigrant’s journey across the U.S.-Mexico border.
As stated in the organization’s release, the prize is awarded for excellence in long-form, narrative, or deep reporting about underrepresented and/or misrepresented groups in the United States. It recognizes journalism’s ability to foster understanding and aims to support freelance journalists.
The Heising-Simons Foundation describes both Nagle and Courteau in a complimentary light based on their work in journalism.
Nagle is a writer, audio journalist, and advocate, based in Tahlequah, Okla. She frequently writes about Native issues including tribal sovereignty, representation in culture and media, cultural appropriation, and violence against women. She is the creator and host of the podcast “This Land,” which focused on the case of Carpenter v. Murphy, a U.S. Supreme Court case about the treaty and land rights of five tribes in her home state.
“Though our stories are foundational to this country, most often contemporary Native Americans are erased from the news and mainstream media,” Nagle said in the release. “With ‘This Land’ I wanted listeners to learn not only about one Supreme Court case, but about tribal sovereignty and the ongoing fight for Native rights in this country. I am humbled and honored to get this award and hope it serves as an example to media outlets and editors that people are ready to hear Native stories.”
Courteau is a writer and photo essayist based in Washington, D.C. and the rural Arkansas Ozarks. Among her enduring subjects are the outsider communities she has made home. She has written about the Ozarks, life in a low-income, high-crime neighborhood in D.C., and dog sledding in the Alaskan wilderness. Her long-form story “Mireya’s Third Crossing” follows a Mexican woman on her journey to attain a visa after living unauthorized in the U.S. for 25 years.
“I’m interested in how economic and political forces bear on individual lives,” Courteau said in the release. “But more than that I’m interested in our relationships to faith, work, land, and animals, what we’ll barter for some freedom, and how we come to terms with solitude. I’m grateful to those people, many of them very private, who have revealed their stories to me.”
According to the Heising-Simons Foundation, the prize is based on confidential nominations invited from more than 100 leaders in journalism throughout the country. A panel of 10 judges—including journalists from "The Washington Post," the "Los Angeles Times," the "Boston Globe," NPR, VICE News, the "Oxford American," Columbia University, and Arizona State University—selected the recipients.
For more information about the American Mosaic Journalism Prize, visit https://www.hsfoundation.org/prize.
The 2020 American Mosaic Journalism Prize Judges
Freelance Journalist & Former Producer
“This American Life”
Samuel G. Freedman
Professor of Journalism
National Race and Justice Reporter
"Los Angeles Times"
Correspondent and Producer
VICE News Tonight
"The Washington Post"
Features and Enterprise Reporter
"The Boston Globe"
Professor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Arizona State University
2019 Recipient, American Mosaic Journalism Prize
Chief Diversity Officer
About the Heising-Simons Foundation
The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation based in Los Altos and San Francisco, California. The Foundation works with its many partners to advance sustainable solutions in climate and clean energy, enable groundbreaking research in science, enhance the education of our youngest learners, and support human rights for all people. For more information visit, www.hsfoundation.org.
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